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Peabody-Burns teachers finding home - old or new

Staff writer

After a year living in Marion County, new Peabody-Burns third-grade teacher Cindy Ziesemer feels like she has found her hometown, 2,000 miles from where she grew up.

A native of Dallas, Oregon, Ziesemer enjoys the feeling of a small school district, and a county with Mennonite heritage.

“Dozens of the family names are the same, and people have relatives here and there,” she said. “It’s fascinating. I felt like I was coming home.”

After working several years at a kindergarten through eighth grade school near Salem, Oregon, Ziesemer knew what kind of district she wanted to teach at.

“To really get to know kids and their families deeply, that’s what I like about a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade or kindergarten to eighth grade school,” she said. “It’s the opportunity to get to know generations of families. You don’t see that in Wichita.”

Special education teacher Emily Kemling feels a connection to the area as a Hillsboro native.

“I was born in Hillsboro and lived there my first six years,” she said. “We moved to Nebraska and were there ever since. Then I came back to Tabor College and I’m staying here.”

She and fellow special educator Duncan Whitlok attended Tabor College together.

While they will have similar roles at school, Whitlok will divide his time between special education and physical education.

Whitlok’s desire to be a teacher was inspired by his own positive experiences, and wanting to pass that on.

“I had P.E. teachers in school who played with me, so why not be a P.E. teacher,” he said.

Business teacher Mark Arnold brings with him the experience of work seminars and training employees.

“Sometimes students say, ‘When am I ever going to use this in the real world?’ ” Arnold said. “For me, it seems like it would be easy to start there, to start from a position of how it works in the real world. Here are things I find helpful knowing in a work setting.”

English Bailey Parker is helping with Peabody-Burns sports teams, so she already has met several of the students she will teach.

“A lot of them know me,” she said. “I’m already building that relationship before they ever step in the classroom.”

Communicating with students is about relating to them, even if their interests or personalities don’t align, Parker said.

“That just means I put extra time in with that student,” she said. “I show them that even though we don’t fit, I still value them as a person, I value their opinions and I’m going to listen to them.”

Whitlok, who has student-teaching experience at the high school, believes creating a means of understanding is important at any age level.

“Student teaching in the high school was about being able to understand and know what they like to do, and how they act,” he said. “I feel like it would be the same, just at a younger age.”

For Kemling, it comes down to being prepared, which means adapting to students’ educational needs.

“I knew that coming in,” she said. “I’m super excited to find out the differences in how I can meet their needs and improve where they need to be close to their peers. It’s like finding that missing puzzle piece.”

Last modified Aug. 26, 2020

 

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